If you or a loved one has bipolar disorder, you know what an important role routine plays in managing symptoms. The days you stick to your routine can be the ones that play out the best, leaving you with a sense of control. But, life is unpredictable and often throws things out of whack. Covid 19 is one of those things. For most non-essential workers, adjusting to life under quarantine comes with its challenges, especially since old routines have likely changed. Essential workers face their own set of serious challenges and stressors that aren’t to be overlooked, but the focus of this article is on people in quarantine. So for those of us stuck at home, what are some ways you can stay on top of bipolar during this uncertain time?
If a routine served you well before the pandemic, it is important to develop a new one. The good news is that many of the beneficial habits you adopt during quarantine can be easily transferred to your life after the pandemic. One of the most beneficial things you can do is to maintain a regular sleep schedule. Before the pandemic, many of us relied on our jobs to set our sleep schedule. Now, because many of us spend the whole day at home, it is easier to fall into an irregular sleep pattern. Bipolar disorder is heavily influenced by your body’s circadian rhythms. These daily rhythms include your sleep-wake cycle. Sleep deprivation has been shown to trigger manic episodes. Maintaining a regular sleep schedule balances your circadian rhythm, leaving you more rested and less tired during the day.
Although it is extremely important to stay home to avoid the spread of the virus, this can take its toll on our mental well-being. Spending time outside in nature can have relaxing, stress reducing effects on the body. Exercise can also have a similar effect. When you exercise, your body releases endorphins and other feel-good chemicals that reduce stress and leave you with a positive mood. Building time into your routine for exercise or time outside can have positive effects on depression. If you do venture out of the house, be sure to take precautions and follow your local government’s recommendations, wear a mask and wash your hands often.
One of the biggest changes to life during quarantine is the lack of social interaction. It has been shown that social interaction can have a positive impact on bipolar patients. Most face to face interaction has gone virtual and it can take more effort to maintain relationships when it’s over the internet. But, it is important to stay in touch with your support system. Be sure to maintain regular appointments with your doctor virtually if you have the option. If you attended a support group in person, consider joining a virtual one. Bipolar can make you feel alone. It is important to maintain contact with others who can offer some support.
Setting up your new schedule will take some time and trial and error. There is no one size fits all and it will take some experimenting. eMoods has recently launched a new tool to help you track your mood and factors contributing to your mood. It is called the Wellness Tracker. It lets you track things like how many hours you slept, how much time you spent outside, and how you felt overall throughout the day. You can also set up custom tracking points. The data is plotted on graphs and charts so you can see the correlations between activities and your mood. Covid 19 has thrown us all a curveball, but when it comes to managing bipolar, you are still in control.
This post was written by Jack Pombriant, a contributor to eMoods. Jack Pombriant is a freelance writer, radio producer and musician. His website is located at jackpombriant.com.